Of Taylor Swift

by Shelt Garner

I really like Taylor Swift. And, yet, there’s something “hot-but-not-sexy” about her. This, I think, is why she will never have any career in Hollywood. She has a very passionate fanbase who would be flabbergasted in the extreme if she, say, did nudity in a movie to further her career.

And, really, I don’t even think she should worry about it. She’s hitting on all cylinders right now…why change? She probably has a 30+ year career ahead of her — if not more – and she’ll sort of a far more popular version of Shania Twain when she’s in her 40s or 50s.

Though, it might be her natural ambition that gets her in trouble. There’s going to come a point when she’s married and has kids and basic human nature will kick in. She’s going to be, “Fuck it, a little T&A never hurt anyone, right?” I guess what I’m saying is, she could lay the groundwork for that NOW, instead of springing it on her fanbase later.

She’s done a few things here and again to spice her imagine up, but nothing too provocative. And, again, she’s fine. She has no reason to change. She is in the exact center of pop culture right now — no need for her to to an all-female version of Midnight Cowboy or anything.

The only thing I could maybe see causing her to change her imagine some is if, say, Miley Cyrus’ career began to eclipse hers or something. But Ms. Swift is such a gentle, awkward soul that I would be stunned if she did anything, anything at all, to change her imagine.

And I can’t say I blame her.

Annie Clark Needs To Team Up With Taylor Swift

by Shelt Garner

I’m a pretty big fan of St Vincent. And, yet, my mind grows irritated with her music for some reason. And with all this talk of a “New Sound” beginning to — maybe– develop, I realize what it is : Annie Clark needs her Paul McCartney.

See, this is what’s going on — St. Vincent is so busy producing weird art-rock music that she’s squandering her potential. She needs someone like Paul McCartney to force her to balance her need to write the next “Tomorrow Never Knows” with, say, her ability to produce something closer to “Revolution.”

The thing that draws me to Clark is her guitar ability. But the songs that are associated with those guitar solos are…just too fucking weird. If you could, like, get someone to create a female version of Guns & Roses with Annie playing the part of Slash, well, then, that would be pretty cool.

Ok, hear me out. Who’s the one person that could balance out Clark’s weirder tendencies? Taylor Fucking Swift. That paring would be perfect. Put Meg White on drums and maybe make Carrie Brownstein the group’s “George Harrison” and I think you would have the makings of a rock group for the ages.

You’d need some serious ego-management to make that particular dream line up a reality. But, alas, no one listens to me. At least my novel is going well at the moment.

My Dream ‘Rona Rock’ Song — Taylor Swift Singing ‘Would I Lie To You?’

by Shelt Garner

I have written about this before and, really, for me to keep talking about it, I’m being both “delusional and stupid.” But can you imagine if Taylor Swift did a quickie cover of the Eurythmics “Would I Lie To You?”

Here’s what you do — get Taylor Swift to fucking break something. Get her glammed up and tricked out as a rocker. She gets to scream at the top of her lungs about something very relevant in the Trump Era — lies. Remember, this song’s key is female empowerment. Imagine if it was Annie Clark on lead guitar. She as very distinctive style, so that, in itself, would update this 80s hit.

I love this song. And, really, come to think of it, if you were going to get all “girl supergroup” on us, instead of a trio of R&B backing vocals, you get Billie Eilish to lend her deep, husky sound to the song. So, you’d have Taylor Swift on vocals, St. Vincent on guitar, Billie Eilish as a backup vocalist and, say, Meg White on drums.

That would rock!

Taylor Swift Is So Frustrating

by Shelt Garner

Ms. Swift is a great singer, lyricist and performer. But I find her exceedingly frustrating. The reason is, she’s at the exact center of pop culture. She’s everywhere and nowhere musically, like pop culture oxygen.

But, I get it. She has a massive fan base. She has absolutely no reason to change. So she doesn’t. What’s so frustrating is I hear stuff from her contemporaries like Miley Cyrus or Dua Lipa and there’s something new there. There’s a New Sound — I call it Rona Rock — that seems just about to pop out. It’s like we might just be about to leave the cultural wasteland of Adult Contemporary for something, something different, something new and modern.

So, I guess I’m really being both “stupid and delusional” to think that someone like Ms. Swift might partner with, say, someone like Butch Vig. What’s more likely to happen, really, is some middle-step. Some album or song that is half Adult Contemporary half Rona Rock.

For all my ranting on this subject, the fundamentals of pop music haven’t changed — people aren’t really buying music. And we’re literally a generation away from people who grew up on that last gasp of rock that showed itself in the States as Grunge and in the UK as Britpop.

It just would be great to have music to believe in again. Music with a backbeat. Music with lyrics that told a story. Music that wanted to change the world. As it stands, Ms. Swift writes gentle pop songs about dudes who have made her sad.

You can’t have everything, I guess.

The Cultural Heatsink That Is Taylor Swift’s Album ‘Cardigan’

by Shelt Garner

Where to begin on this one. Taylor Swift is an excellent lyricist and among the most influential performers of her generation. And, yet, her latest album seems to be fan service.

There was all this buzz among the faithful, but I haven’t seen any buzz about it beyond that. I had to go out of my way to listen to it on Spotify. What I’ve heard of it so far is pretty good. Nothing unexpected. Pretty much what you would expect from someone like Taylor Swift at this point in her career.

It makes you wonder what this means. It seems like the lack of buzz for the album says more about the modern state of pop culture than it does her. And, really, what I might be noticing is she didn’t drop a video for any of the songs. Typically, a video would get some press over and above what one might expect from the usual Taylor Swift places.

I have to note that Taylor Swift sent Cara Delevingne and Kaia Gerber a two person cardigan to wear in honor of the album’s release. What the what? It’s surreal that no one has pointed out the obvious implications of this. Sounds a lot like if there is a romantic relationship between Ms. Delevingne and Ms. Gerber it’s obviously well known enough that Swift sent the two women such a gift. And, again, maybe I’m drawing a conclusion that isn’t supported by the facts. I’m more than willing to admit that possibility. But, let’s be honest, folks. Is it really credible to believe that someone like Ms. Delevingne would shoot a platonic selfie with a catch like Ms. Gerber? REALLY? In a two person cardigan of all things? REALLY?

Anyway. No one listens to me and they probably shouldn’t.

Back to Swift. I still wish she would assemble a female super group and go straight rock with it. But apparently, rock is dead and gone, never to return. Lulz?

What I Wouldn’t Do For Taylor Swift To Form A Grrll Power Supergroup & Release A Protest Rock Album

by Shelt Garner

Ugh. Tay-Tay. You want us to think you’re so woke, hows about you put your career where your wokeness is and rustle up an all-girl supergroup. I was thinking it would like something like

Taylor Swift / Vocals, guitar
Annie Clark / guitar
Meg White / Drums
Melissa Auf der Maur / Bass Guitar

It could be a quickie, one off. Here are the covers I want to hear:

Fortune Son
Would I Lie To You?
Suffragette City

A few others, plus some original stuff. Get going!

Oh, Jesus, Tay-Tay, Grow Up

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

I find myself listening to music from Taylor Swift’s new album “Lover” a lot these days. It’s pretty good music in the context of modern pop music. But, Jesus, Tay-Tay, how old are you? You’re a grown-ass woman now.

Not that it’s my place to tell her what to do — it’s not — but as an audience member I grow frustrated with her training bra music. If you’re going to be a huge superstar, you’re at some point going to have to admit that you…have sex. It’s not as though she isn’t thirsty at points in her modern lyrics, but there’s still an element of air quotes to the whole thing.

But, really, I guess if it’s not broke don’t fix it. That’s her thing. She’s middle-of-the-road, middlebrow pop music for people who don’t want to be challenged. She’s kind of the Korean drama of music. So, from a strictly musical standpoint, she’s fine. She can drift through the decades writing lyrics that make 14-year-old girls think they’re being “naughty” by singing them outloud alone in their room.

Having said all that, there is the issue of her Hollywood career. She has all the elements of someone who could make a successful transition from pop star to Hollywood star. But for one thing — sex appeal Just look at Lady Gaga. There’s no question Lady Gaga is an adult woman who might take a lover — male or female — just because she’s horny.

While Tay-Tay is obviously stunning, she just doesn’t exude that danger that is critical to sex appeal. Sex appeal, in part, is the questions someone’s demeanor leaves in your mind. Think back to Prince. In Controversy, he sings something like, “Is he gay, is he straight?” With Tay-Tay, the only question I have about her motives is…has she actually had sex? Even if she has, I honestly can’t imagine her doing it. She’s in a twilight of a young woman who hasn’t fully transitioned out of late childhood.

What’s more, I just don’t see Tay-Tay doing what is required to fix this situation. I mean, maybe, she might drop a toe into music that is a bit more provocative, but even then that’s likely to have a huge amount of pushback from her fanbase. And, really, this is an example of how her being, like, sane and stuff is both a boon and a bane. Her rock-solid mental stability helps her become and stay hugely successful. But not being weird hurts her because she uses the metrics that any normal person would use. She doesn’t do something crazy for the sake of being different. Art for art’s sake is not her bailiwick.

As I’ve said before, you do you Tay-Tay. Though to quote Billy Joel, I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.

Constructing A Girl Supergroup For The Ages

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

Throughout pop rock history, there have occasionally be so-called “super-groups” that have formed. The usually last an album or two and that’s it. One of the weird — at least to me — macro trends of pop the last decade or so is that rock has faded into nothing while we’ve seen the rise of popular female solo acts.

Anyway, it’d be nice to have a girl supergroup. Here’s my dream roster:

Lead Vocals: Taylor Swift
Lead Guitar: Annie Clark (St. Vincent)
Bass: Melissa Auf der Maur
Drums: Avril Lavigne

I like this band because it would almost force Swift to be a rock star. She has it in her to do it, but she’d need a serious push. All the women would sing as well as play an instrument.

Regardless, I don’t ever see anything like this happening for various reasons. But it’d be fun if it did happen.

The Case For Tay-Tay To Do An Answer To Britney Spears’ ‘Blackout’

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

Now, let’s get some things out of the way. Taylor Swift is demonstrably a very awkward, sensitive and gentle soul. She also has a strangely turbulent romantic history. Also, Swift at least outwardly seems reasonably rock solid in her mental stability.

The case could be made that her being so “normal” is both a boon and a bane to her creativity. It helps her with maintaining her fanbase of absolute-center of pop culture grown up tweens who still need training bra music. Creative people, the ones who make a difference in culture are almost always completely bonkers. The thing about Tay-Tay is she is growing older and as such more self confident.

Either she gets married and drops a few kids or she risks alienating her fan base who are going through that particular significant change in their lives. The older women get, the more raunchy they become. There’s a good chance that the disconnect between Tay-Tay’s public persona and her fan base may grow so large that there’s going to be a pretty dramatic snap. To put it another way, Tay-Tay risks not seeming very…relatable.

So I propose that Swift let her hair down a little bit. It’s would have to be a strategic move on her part. She would need to do it on her own terms from a position of strength not weakness caused by being completely bonkers.

As such, sooner or later, she’s going to have to shake things up. She’s going to have to do an album like Britney Spears’ “Blackout” or Nelly Furtado’s “Loose.” In the short term it would alienate a lot of her fanbase. But long term it would definitely help her career. You can only be the definition of American wholesomeness and purity for so long before it grows tiresome. Or, put another way, if she wants a serious Hollywood career she’s going to have to change how people perceive her. I mean, I see Margaret Qualley as a serious actress because she seems like a normal human being who thinks about sex. Tay-Tay just isn’t very sexual. She’s the girl your mom wants you to settle down with, not the girl you meet a bar and think you actually have a chance of hooking up with.

She’s obviously very ambitious. Swift’s pretty safe for the time being. But as she approaches 30, things are going to change. Even her youngest original fans will be, like, women now. Swift is master of the sly discussion of her personal life and maybe it’s time for her to be a bit more aggressive with her lyrics.

But, meh. She serves her purpose in pop culture, I guess. She may simply always fill the niche of being the pop star that fits the MAGA dream but in her personal life is far more progressive. You do you, Tay-Tay.

Woke Tay-Tay Is Disconcerting

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

The thing about Taylor Swift is she is the Star Wars of pop music. She has a huge built-in fanbase. She is also kind of the absolute center of pop music and culture.

So, here I am, listening to music from her latest album, Lover. It’s pretty standard modern pop music. But occasionally, she throws some conspicuous curve balls at me. Take, for instance, the song, “The Man.” It’s reasonably woke for pop music, I guess. The issue is, of course, that in a sense Swift is simply going where her audience is going in this Age of The Thousand Year Trump.

Swift is like the hot girl in a small Southern town who is secretly dating a black dude but refuses to go public with the relationship because she might lose Homecoming Queen. The best example of this is how big a fan Swift is of the great TV show Fleabag. This is an prime example of what’s going on in Swift’s mind is significantly different than her well-hone public persona. As it is, I still struggle to believe Swift isn’t a virgin.

I guess the point of all this is Swift is never going to do what she might otherwise do — go through that crazy rebellious phase that female pop singers often go through. I mean, it’s not like she’s going to do a Playboy spread or anything. If she does, it’ll be when she’s in her 40s. Even Taylor Swift can’t escape the power of developmental psychology. The crazy thing is by the time she’s in her 40s, if Swift isn’t married with 3 kids she’s probably going to be a pretty aggressive cougar. She’ll be dating 2039’s version of Pete Davidson.

It’s not like Swift’s going to swerve into rock music. Or she’s not going to do a Blackout album like Britney Spears. Her fan base simply could not handle it. She’s always going to be what moderate centrist (white) young women imbue their hopes and fears into.

Now, maybe I’m wrong. If Swift got Billie Eilish to write and produce a single, then my views on her will change. As Swift grows older and a bit more secure in herself, there’s a least small chance she might produce an album that’s seen as outside her comfort zone. But that’s more a mid-30s come back album thing for her to do.

Another unknown is to what lengths she’ll go to be seen as a Hollywood star. Any number of women you might otherwise never expect to go topless have done so because of the demands of the showbiz industry.

I see her coasting through mainstream mediocracy for the time being, however. She has a vested interest in simply drifting through her career producing music that is more a reflection of her audience than a challenge to it.